Perceived Weaknesses of Philosophical Inquiry: A Comparison to Psychology

Philosophia 44 (1):33-52 (2016)
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Abstract

We report two experiments exploring the perception of how contemporary philosophy is often conducted. We find that (1) participants associate philosophy with the practice of conducting thought experiments and collating intuitions about them, and (2) that this form of inquiry is viewed much less favourably than the typical form of inquiry in psychology: research conducted by teams using controlled experiments and observation. We also found (3) an effect whereby relying on intuition is viewed more favorably in the context of team inquiry than in individual inquiry and (4) that greater prior exposure to philosophy lowered one’s opinion of inquiry driven by intuitions and thought experiments. Finally with respect to participant gender, we found that (5) women favored observation over intuition more than men did, and (6) tended to view a question pursued by a research team as more important than men viewed it.

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Author Profiles

John Turri
University of Waterloo
Wesley Buckwalter
George Mason University